Pastoral care in times of war and incest...
They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially... - Jeremiah 8:11a
E-mail has been low in my priorities recently, so I didn't read this or post it on Veteran's Day. But it's worth posting now. The writer, Jeff Ewer, is an elder of Clearnote Church, Bloomington who served in our Armed Forces when he was a younger man. His comments here on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are helpful and they apply to a host of issues where we neglect the soul and the Law of God and thereby fail to comfort the afflicted. And I say "we" because this failure is as common in the Reformed church as it is among other Christians. Warren Kinghorn, the writer of the USA Today article Jeff links to, ends his piece:
Veterans need a civilian culture that refuses to distance itself from them either through reflexive condemnation or, more commonly, through reflexive valorization. Sometimes, they need communities that can offer the non-medical languages of confession, repentance and forgiveness. And above all, they need to be taken seriously as moral beings who have stood for us in hazy and complicated places and who now bear witness to what that commitment entails.
In the Reformed church, it's usually "reflexive valorization;" I know that's a good characterization of my own care for these men. We must do better, providing them care that applies the Word of God to their killing and probes and welcomes their confessions of sin.
This article is also most helpful in our work exposing and ending child molestation and incest.
My wife and I spent most of the past week out of state working with the elders and pastor of a PCA congregation dealing with sins of incest in a large homeschooling family. Much like war, the horror of incest conspires to silence the application of God's Word to the sinners and victims... It's so obvious--why say it? Why beat a man when he's down? This applies to the victims, but also the offenders. It seems like blaming the victim to inquire about extortion or violence against civillians when the man you're talking with is crying over the death of his squad member. So also it seems like blaming the victim to inquire of a young woman crying over the sexual crimes her older brother committed against her to ask whether she came to enjoy and initiate the sin?
In such awful things as war and incest, it should help us do our work faithfully to remember God hates sin and welcomes the confession of sin; but also that people who suffer terrible pain commit sin in the midst of that pain and need to be given permission to confess it. Thus it is the privilege of pastors, elders, Titus 2 women, and parents to bring Scripture to bear on the pain they suffered, helping them see what God Himself has to say about the distinction between a soldier and a murderer and a soldier-murderer; also what He has to say about the distinction between a child-corrupter and a child-corrupted who himself or herself becomes a child-corrupter. And the parents must be worked with, also, to the end that they see the ways they sinned by failing to protect their children from the wickedness on the inside of their own home and family and bedrooms and barn.
Are all homeschooling large family fathers and mothers listening? Incest is a sin that is particularly prevalent among large homeschooling families. We shouldn't have to say it, but there it is. When you put girls and boys and boys and boys and girls and girls together twenty-four hours a day and they come of age, evil things can happen without any public school teacher indoctrinating them or next-door neighbor showing them pornography. Read Scripture and take seriously all the accounts of incest you find there.
These things were written down as warnings for us.
So, with that preface, here's Jeff's comment:
Today is Veterans Day. A friend linked to the article below that ties PTSD to morality. ...When it comes to Confession, Repentance and Forgiveness, the military has no acronym. We have not taught our sons to be holy and blameless. And we have not taught them to protect and defend to the point of taking life. We have allowed the world's systems to teach us that killing is in every case wrong. We have become afraid of the consequences of our own sin and have made every death row execution a moral dilemma. Warren Kinghorn, a staff psychiatrist at the Durham VA Medical Center, is assistant professor of psychiatry and pastoral and moral theology at Duke University Medical Center and Duke Divinity School. He writes that the the damage of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is physical and moral. The moral component should be dealt with through Confession, Repentance and Forgiveness. Sadly, we have no place for CRF in our military.